Parenting Through COVID-19

​​Here is a collection of resources and tips for parents and caregivers on some parenting techniques that may be helpful during COVID-19.

*We’ll continue to update this page with more findings & offerings.


Allow space for big feelings

We, as adults, have some big, complicated feelings about everything that’s going on in the world with Coronavirus. And kids have these big feelings too! Except that kids may not have the words or the ability to understand or express those feelings, or all the information to know what’s going on. Not to mention all the big feelings about the changes in their every day routine!

This can be scary or dysregulating for kids, and can often come out in different ways like more anger, meltdowns, hitting, or shut downs. As a parent – reflecting what kids are feeling is a helpful way to help kids understand what they might be feeling.

Create a bucket-list of things to do together

For some children, it might be hard to understand why you can’t spend time with them despite being at home. Creating a list together and setting expectations on when you can do those activities together will be beneficial.

Set boundaries & create routines

Routines can take many different forms, from full morning routines to hand washing routines. You can create a routine and build in structure for any activity you are wanting to do with your children. Click on the blue bar for more information on setting routines.

More on Routines & Schedules

Setting routines for children helps to build structure, create safety, and set boundaries in their everyday lives. It takes out unnecessary stress from the day – for kids and even more so for parents! Having a consistent schedule or routine helps children know what to expect and when to expect it, which creates more predictability and security, especially during difficult times. It helps you as a parent set appropriate limitations, and make life more predictable in the home.

 The Benefits of Setting Routines

  • Creates a sense of security & predictability
  • Helps set appropriate limitations and expectations
  • Eliminates unnecessary stress or power struggles
  • Helps kids “take charge” in their own activities
  • Promotes the bond & connection between you and your child!

 Important elements of setting routines:

  • Consistency: This means doing the same activity at the same time, and responding to your child’s behavior in the same way each time.
  • Predictability: Your child knows what to expect and how you’ll respond each time
  • Follow Through: This means doing what you’ll respond to your child’s behavior, or complete the set routine, in the same way you say that you will.

Examples of helpful routines or schedules:

  • Morning Get-Ready Routine
  • Bedtime Routine
  • Mealtime Routine
  • Homework Time & Schedule
  • Shopping/Outing Routine

Tips to help establish new routines:

Plan out the routine: Identify what routine you want to introduce to your children and write out a schedule you want to keep to. Being prepared with a plan will help you better implement it with your children and problem-solve in the moment.

  • What time do I want a particular activity to happen?
  • How can I set my children up for success during this routine?
  • What transitions might be challenging for my children?
  • What preparation can I do to help make this routine go more smoothly?

Modeling the Routine: Showing your children the behavior you want to see from them helps them better understand what you’re expecting from them – and also teaches them how to do it! 

Ask-Say-Do: When your child(ren) are having trouble or do not follow the routine, use Ask-Say-Do as a way to remind and demonstrate what the desired behavior is. This happens immediately after an undesired behavior happens.

  • Ask: What is the action that is supposed to happen? “What do we do after we get out of bed?”
  • Say: What the action is. “That’s right! We brush our teeth!”
  • Do: Model it or have your children do the action. “Let’s walk to the bathroom and you can show me how you brush your teeth.”

Praising Desired Behavior: When you see your child doing the behaviors or activities you want, take time to praise them! It could be big or small – children are more likely to do things that are getting them positive attention and recognition.

  • EX: “Thank you for brushing your teeth right after you got out of bed!” “Great job remembering to brush your teeth after you woke up today!”

Don’t be discouraged! Establishing new routines may be met with some resistance and take some time for kids to get used to. Continue to follow through

Set aside special time

Allow your children to choose the activity and lead! This allows you to give your child dedicated attention, strengthen your connection, and also allow your child to feel a sense of control during a very confusing time.

Talking to kids about scary stuff

If you’re an anxious parent hoping to break the cycle of worry, we highly recommend the parenting book, Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children.

Self care for parents

It’s hard to take care of your kids and manage their feelings when you’re feeling stressed yourself. Self-care can be simple and doesn’t need to be expensive.

Additional resources to provide more support to you and your family as you adjust 

Tips for Adjusting to Coronavirus

Talking to Kids about Coronavirus

Bay Area Resources for Coronavirus

COVID-19 Resources for Undocumented Families (San Francisco Department of Public Health)

Northern California